Reader says she quit cult of SRF after 37 years.
I regularly get emails from readers. Here’s a short message from one and a few of my comments below:
“Thank you for your website. I used to be in SRF (Self-Realization Fellowship) for 37 years. I realized that it is a cult, like all religions. I still like to meditate each morning and I do biofeedback to help put myself into a parasympathetic state before I start work. I think Yogananda was a very charismatic person. I no longer believe in Gurus. I distrust organized religion. I used to go to Convocation and could never get into the Daya Mata worship. She always seemed like an overly conservative, uptight person. I appreciate what you write about on your website, and your way of thinking critically.”
1 Paramahansa Yogananda is the yoga-master, guru-founder of Self-Realization Fellowship. For a critique of Yogananda’s extraordinary claims about meditation, read my posts Can Yogis Stop Their Heart? and The Evidence Against Breathlessness and Samadhi
2 SRF’s Convocation is a weeklong convention were thousands of SRF monastics, volunteers, and devotees from around the world converge each summer at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
While I was a monk, I participated each year in the SRF Convocations. The monastics and volunteer lay members worked 14-18 hours each day to run the event behind the curtain and at the Bonaventure.
The first five years of my life in the SRF Monastic Order I enthusiastically served at Convocation in a labor of love. I tolerated the 18 hour work shifts at the Bonaventure Hotel. By my sixth, seventh, and eighth Convocation I found the event, the monastic speakers, and the topics were monotonous and formulaic: How to Meditate, Finding God in Daily Life, Keys to Happiness, Surrendering to God, etc. etc.
For SRF’s perspective on highlights from Convocations see this page on their official SRF website: http://www.yogananda-srf.org/convocation/Highlights_From_Past_Convocations.aspx#.VgCLVGRViko
The SRF Convocation gets 4,000 attendees each year. During the last 20 years, the Convocation nor the SRF organization as a whole has increased membership. The SRF apparently aquires new members at the same rate they lose members. The same goes for the Monastic Order: the ranks of SRF monks and nuns doesn’t appear to grow much if any.
Daya Mata was originally a Mormon living in Salt Lake City Utah. At age 17 she met Yogananda during one of his public lectures in Salt Lake City. She then left home with her parents permission to live with Yogananda in his ashram in Los Angeles.
Daya Mata was succeeded by the present President of SRF, Mrinalini Mata. Mrinalini Mata entered the SRF Monastic Order at the tender age of 15. For more about her, see this article in the Los Angeles Times.